Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My iPhone 4 in Winter

Photo by Frank DiCesare (www.frankdicesarephoto.com)
Shortly before Christmas 2014, I attended a holiday party at a swanky Asian restaurant, hosted by a swanky casino resort, to thank the not-so-swanky local media hot shots.

My newspaper colleagues were seated at a table with several young female reporters from a local television station. In all, it was a young group, between the ages of 22 and 35, and my arrival as the resident old fart, clad in his tweed blazer and cordovan dress shoes, was met with the kind of excitement typically sensed at nursing home mixers.

It wasn’t long, though, before two of the television reporters broke the ice with me, making small talk with the middle-aged Yankee with the Boston accent. (Since my move to the Deep South six years ago, I’ve pahked my cah in Hahvid Yahd so many times for the locals I’m convinced the campus police are on the lookout for me – the El Chapo of parking violations.)

We ordered food and chatted for a while until our conversation came to a lull. I then decided to check my smartphone for any messages.

“Is that an iPhone 4?” one of the reporters asked me. Her tone was incredulous. One would’ve thought I had just hit the switchhook of a candlestick phone. Click! Click! Click! Hello? Hello, operator? Get me GRanite9-8267. Thanks!

“Yes it is,” I said to her. “I picked it up last year.”

“Why don’t you have a 5 like mine?” she asked. I sensed a hint of urgency rising in her voice. I thought at any moment the local police would bust into the joint and arrest me on charges of brandishing an anachronism while eating sushi.

“I like this one,” I said. “I like its size; it does everything I want it to do, and I really don’t have a reason to upgrade right now.”

Looking back, I think my reasons fell flat with her. They were, nevertheless, the truth. I wasn’t a fan of the iPhone 5; I thought it was nothing more than a taller, slimmer 4. I’m not enamored with the 6, either, which looks more like a T.V. remote for a supermodel than a cellphone. 

But while my 4 has served me well for more than two years, I think my refusal to upgrade has caught up with me. Over the past few weeks, this relic of a smartphone has been acting out on me, sending out alert sounds even when there is no alert to read. I doubt I’m hallucinating. I know my alerts are working. I get them whenever I receive a text or a notification from my social media accounts, all of which are delivered with same bleep-ity-bleep! sound.

Lately, however, I’ve been hearing bleep-ity-bleep! throughout the day with no adjoining message. So now whenever I hear bleep-ity-bleep! I’m not immediately sure if the alert is legit. It’s just not fair. I’m the only man in America with an iPhone that cries wolf.

The ordeal has become so bad that I’ve morphed into Apple’s Pavlovian dog. Every time I hear bleep-ity-bleep! I instinctively turn to my phone, often only to find a blank, black screen. About 30 seconds later, I’ll hear another bleep-ity-bleep! and, again, I’ll glance at my phone and be suckered a second time into finding nothing. Come to think of it, I’m less than a Pavlovian dog. Pavlov’s dogs were fed.

Last week, I went to my local Verizon store to get the issue resolved. I handed my 4 to a young sales rep who received it as if it were a full diaper. She asked me a series of diagnostic questions, flipped through a few menus, hit a few buttons, and declared the problem solved. She then added that by year’s end my 4 won’t be able to receive Apple’s updates and I’ll have to upgrade to get them.

I left satisfied. So what if cellular hospice is imminent, I thought. I could get through 2016 without updates. Maybe Christmas will come and Apple will release an iPhone 7, featuring a reduced size and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. In the meantime, my 4 was fixed. 

I wasn’t home an hour when – bleep-ity-bleep! – another phantom alert arrived.

Maybe I’ll just turn off all alerts and check my phone less. If Apple forces me to use a phone that belongs on the cover of Elle, I’ll just discontinue the service, pay the contractural penalty, and go back to my landline until I find a smartphone I like, or at least one I can live with.

Sure it's middle-aged stubbornness, but what’s the worse that can happen? If I’m ever on the road without a cell phone and need to dial GRanite9-8267, I can always pull over and stop at a payphone. Right?  


  1. "I'm the only man in America with an iPhone that cries wolf." I love it. I don't like the size of the new 6 either and won't have one.

  2. Jan, I'm ready to take this thing out to the woodshed! This is nothing more than corporate planned obsolescence of the worse kind.

  3. I LOVE my Motorola (MOTO X 2nd Gen)and Republic Wireless surely is the best wireless provider for the price.

  4. Maybe a Motorola MOTO is in my future, Angie.